World Sleep Day
HOW SLEEP CAN AFFECT YOUR HEALTH AND WELLBEING
Sleep is a such an important aspect of our overall health and wellbeing. When we sleep our bodies and minds repair and restore. In the modern world however, sleep is often not considered to be as important as it really is. Lack of quantity and quality (depth and long periods of uninterrupted ) sleep can lead to various health issues such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and mental health issues. Sleep also impacts on how we cope with and perceive pain. Poor sleep can also be a driver of inflammation due to the knock on effect on our hormones,gut health and digestion.
Here are some tips on how to improve your sleep quality and quantity:
- Have a regular sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your internal body clock. This in turn will , improve the quality of your sleep.
- Create a sleep-conducive environment: A quiet, dark, and cool room promotes good sleep. Make your room as cool and dark as possible. Turn off devices and get rid of any standby lights in your bedroom. Other tools that can help are black out curtains, eye masks and white noise. Comfortable bedding and pillows are also important.
- Reduce your exposure to electronic screens prior to bedtime: The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with our circadian rhythm that is important for sleep quantity. Avoid using electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime including phones.
- Limit or avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine: Caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake, while alcohol and nicotine can disrupt sleep patterns. Avoid consuming these substances, especially before bedtime.
- Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity promotes better sleep. Don’t exercise too close to your bed time as you will struggle to fall asleep as exercise causes arousal and not relaxation.
- Practice mindfulness techniques: meditation, yoga, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation can help get your body and mind ready for sleep.
- Avoid some foods close to bedtime : A healthy and balanced diet can improve sleep quality. Avoid heavy, spicy or acidic foods close to bedtime and where possible opt for light meals for dinner.
- Maintain a health weight - being overweight can be a major factor in sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea. Correct assessment and sleep studies can identify these disorders so appropriate management can be put in place. “Sleep machines” can help many people who suffer with sleep apnoea get better more restorative sleep leading to significant improvements to their health
- Magnesium deficiency can affect your sleep as well. Topical magnesium oils and creams can help you get to sleep more easily and get a deeper more restful night's sleep. Epsom salt and magnesium baths are a good way to optimise your magnesium levels and a relaxing bath before bed is a good sleep habit to adopt.
Your physiotherapist can assist you with managing your sleep hygiene with recommendations around pillows, sleeping positions and relaxation techniques. If you struggle with chronic pain, understanding the impact of sleep on your pain is critical – discuss your sleep concerns with your physio – we can help. If we feel you have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnoea we will refer you on to a sleep specialist for assessment and management.